Explore verdant valleys in Colombia's coffee region.

Colombia’s Economy

Colombia has a thriving market economy based primarily on oil, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. Growth over the past decade has been a robust, placing it solidly as a middle-income country. Here’s a brief look at the country’s economic history, with a more in-depth focus on developments and policies in the last two decades.

Even experienced divers will be blown away by the diversity of sea life in the Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo. Photo © Fundación Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos.

Diving Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo

Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo is the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, making it one of the top places for diving in the world. There are 11 main dive sites, including the most important site, La Nevera, where it is common to see scores of hammerhead sharks. Malpelo is for experienced divers only; to get there you must coordinate with one these authorized outfitters in Colombia.

Triceratops reproduction at Gondava. Photo © Petruss (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Villa de Leyva’s Dinosaur Museums

During the Cretaceous period (66-145 million years ago), the area around Villa de Leyva was submerged in an inland sea. Today there are a handful of paleontological sites worth visiting, where you can view fossils of parts of massive dinosaurs to small ammonites, of which there are thousands–excavations still continue. If you have kids, don’t miss the informative park geared towards them.

Playa Cayzedo is filled with towering palms. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Discover Cali, Colombia

Cali’s relaxed place is evident everywhere you go in this diverse city of three million. This is not a city packed with must-see sights, yet tourists keep falling in love with the “Sultan of the Valley.” Is it that late refreshing afternoon breeze? The people? Or is it the salsa? We do know this: Discovering Cali for yourself is the best way to find out.

Restaurant patio in Villa De Leyva. Photo © Edgar Zuniga, Jr., licensed Creative Commons.

Colombian Food in Villa de Leyva

If you’re looking for a taste of deliciously authentic Colombian food, Villa de Leyva and the surrounding area play host to a plentiful array. While there are upscale restaurants in the area, sticking to the same path the locals tread gives you a chance to immerse yourself in the experience, and it’s far easier on your wallet.

A wall of religious icons in Iglesia de San Ignacio, Tunja, Colombia.

Tunja’s Historic Churches

Tunja is a city of churches, with over a dozen that date to colonial times. Everything you need to see here is located in its centro histórico, and make sure you arrive during church visiting hours, as the city does not have much else to offer. And most importantly, learn about the beautiful architecture and history of each one before you see it in person; you’ll appreciate your visit so much more for it.

A small bowl of shrimp ceviche sits on a wooden table.

Where to Eat in Cartagena’s Old City

Seafood reigns supreme in Cartagena cuisine, and though many restaurants in the Walled City sport Manhattan prices, an inexpensive meal is not impossible to find. Here are local favorites from Caribbean-influenced dishes to always-popular pizza and pasta to truly authentic fritos, all with an Old City touch and a perfectly-matched drink.

Parque Nacional Natural Utría on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Plan a Visit to Colombia’s Parque Nacional Natural Utría

Colombia’s Parque Nacional Natural Utría has a spectacular location on the edge of the jungle but close to some great beaches. The best way to experience the park is to stay in one of its cabins during the week, allowing you unfettered access to all the guided nature walks, kayaking, snorkeling and more, as well as immersing yourself completely in this beautiful landscape.

Delirio salsa performance . Photo © Fabian Ortiz, licensed Creative Commons usage.

A Taste of Salsa in Cali

In Cali, there are many ways you can get a taste of (and very likely get hooked on) salsa. From cabaret-style environments to open-air freebies to salsatecas—clubs where it’s all about salsa and nothing more—here are the best venues to seek out for a true salsa experience.

The Camino Real between Barichara and Guane. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Traveling Barichara’s Camino Real

A must-do activity in Barichara is to take the 5.3-kilometer Camino Real path to the pueblo of Guane. It’s a lovely path that zigzags down from the plateau of Barichara through farmland, affording nice views of the countryside. You don’t need a guide: It’s well marked, well trodden, and safe.